Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pillar of fire

Dark swirling thunder clouds were brooding over the Red Sea, drawing a hot dry wind from the east. It was fuel for the tempest, fanning the wrath of Almighty God.

Joshua charged ahead, past scattered groups of people jumping out of his way, ever closer to the crowds gathered along the shoreline.

He could see Moses now, walking purposefully beside a cart carrying the coffin of Joseph - bones that refused to be buried in slavery, bound for the promised land.

Pushing his way through the crush, Joshua finally reached the old prophet.

“They're coming”, he gasped, “Pharaoh, and all his army”.

“Good. Not a moment too soon,” Moses replied with unwavering faith.

“Moses. We need a...”

“...The Almighty knows what we need, even before we ask.”

Joshua wanted to bite his lip. The finality of the moment demanded he state the obvious.

“I trust you know what you’re doing - what He’s doing”

“God’s with us Joshua. Don’t be afraid.”

“I know,” Joshua nodded reassuringly, then turned to face the commotion behind him.

It was Caleb barging his way through the thronging crowd. He arrived breathing heavily and tired, but only half as tired as his horse.

“We don’t have long... before panic… Do your thing Moses.”

Joshua sensed the crowds were increasingly terrified at the sight of Pharaoh’s army swarming onto the peninsula. People were pressing in closer all around Moses, wanting answers, comfort - something. But why was he looking to the sky?

“Moses led us into the wilderness,” someone shouted, “because there were no graves in Egypt?”

“Like he dragged you here kicking and screaming!” Caleb replied.

“There’s nowhere to escape, we’ll all be butchered,” another lamented. “Better off slaves.”

“What’s happening?” said Joshua looking heavenward, now oblivious to the growing chorus of dissent. A massive pillar of cloud over the ocean looked like it was changing into fire. And the fire was moving towards them.

“You’d trade freedom for slavery?” Caleb shouted.

“There’s no freedom in death,” the angry mob cried.

“Freedom from your complaining.”

“Hey is anyone listening?” Joshua interrupted again.

“Silence!” Moses need only to say one word for all to pay attention. He slowly raised his hands to speak.

“No one is going to die. Don’t be afraid. Look, see for yourselves what God is doing.”

The pillar of fire moved steadily across the breaking waves, lifting high up over the Hebrews, then rested on the low sand dunes behind them.

Pharaoh’s path to attack was blocked. What’s more, the same pillar that appeared as fire to the Hebrews was nothing but a wall of darkness to the Egyptians. The blackest of nights shrouded the Hebrews like a curtain of invisibility.

There was nothing Pharaoh could do but order his troops to stand still. Even if they wanted to attack, they could barely see a hundred yards ahead.

“Is it moving toward us?” Pharaoh asked his captain Nemetha, whose hardened body looked chiseled from stone.

“Your Majesty, I think so. Shall I order the men back into the ravine?”

“This is the strangest darkness,” Pharaoh replied. “We can’t see them, but can they see us?”

“I don’t know Master, but we’re safer in the valley.”

Pharaoh pondered a moment longer, looking deeper into a darkness he could almost touch.

“Where could they go?”

“Nowhere your Majesty. Our fort blocks the coastal road. Even if it were captured, moving that many people would be like draining the Nile with a straw.”

“Nemetha, I’ve travelled long enough,” replied Pharaoh. “As much as I want to rid the earth of this Hebrew stench - the men are tired, and my horse is thirsty. Set up camp in the valley for the night. That makes sense, right?”

“Yes it does Sir.”

“We’ll kill the Hebrews after a good nights rest.”

Pharaoh resolutely terminated the conversation, keen to prove he could sleep well before a massacre.

“As you wish, my Lord.”

1 comment:

  1. Interestingly, Exodus clearly records the Red sea crossing occurred at night. For such a famous passage of the Bible, the subject of so many Hollywood treatments, I'm suprised this fact has been overlooked. Why make up stuff when the truth is far more interesting? I'll talk more about my views on "creative license" in other posts.